UPDATE 2-Toronto stocks dive as resources weaken further

Wed Mar 19, 2008 1:33pm EDT
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(Updates to afternoon)

TORONTO, March 19 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index deepened losses on Wednesday afternoon as resource shares dropped on sharp declines in commodities prices.

Mining and energy companies were among the biggest drags on the resource-laden index as oil and gold prices extended a strong downturn.

Agnico-Eagle Mines (AEM.TO: Quote) fell C$3.50, or 4.8 percent, to C$70.00, and Barrick Gold (ABX.TO: Quote) was down C$2.69, or 5.5 percent, at C$46.59. In the oil patch, Suncor Energy (SU.TO: Quote) lost C$3.59, or 3.4 percent, to C$99.33, and Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO: Quote) shed C$3.40, or 4.8 percent, to C$67.63.

The materials sector skidded 4.8 percent, with its subindexes of gold producers and base metals miners falling 3.7 percent and 5.1 percent respectively. The heavyweight energy group slid 3 percent.

Gold prices, which recently ran up to more than $1,000 an ounce, were down nearly 6 percent on profit-taking. Oil prices, which have also hit a string of record highs, fell more than $4 a barrel.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was down 194.34 points, or 1.48 percent, at 12,942.36 with all but three of its 10 main sectors in negative territory.

The index gave back the gains it made in the previous session, when investors were encouraged by a hefty interest rate cut from the U.S. Federal Reserve.

The banking sector remained on the upside, adding 1.7 percent, on bargain-hunting among shares that have been hard hit by troubles in financial markets and fears of more to come.   Continued...